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A Hologram for the King Hardcover – 7 Feb 2013

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Hamish Hamilton (7 Feb. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241145856
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241145852
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.1 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 273,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dave Eggers is the author of six previous books, including "Zeitoun," a nonfiction account a Syrian-American immigrant and his extraordinary experience during Hurricane Katrina and "What Is the What," a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award. That book, about Valentino Achak Deng, a survivor of the civil war in southern Sudan, gave birth to the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, run by Mr. Deng and dedicated to building secondary schools in southern Sudan. Eggers is the founder and editor of McSweeney's, an independent publishing house based in San Francisco that produces a quarterly journal, a monthly magazine ("The Believer"), and "Wholphin," a quarterly DVD of short films and documentaries. In 2002, with Nínive Calegari he co-founded 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for youth in the Mission District of San Francisco. Local communities have since opened sister 826 centers in Chicago, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Ann Arbor, Seattle, and Boston. In 2004, Eggers taught at the University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and there, with Dr. Lola Vollen, he co-founded Voice of Witness, a series of books using oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. A native of Chicago, Eggers graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in journalism. He now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two children.

Product Description

Review

A fascinating novel (New Yorker)

A spare but moving elegy for the American century (Publishers Weekly)

Completely engrossing (Fortune)

Dave Eggers is a prince among men when it comes to writing deeply felt, socially conscious books that meld reportage with fiction. [Hologram] is a strike against the current state of global economic in justice (Elissa Schappell Vanityfair.com) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Dave Eggers is the author of six previous books: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, How We Are Hungry, You Shall Know Our Velocity, What is the What, The Wild Things and Zeitoun. Zeitoun was the winner of the American Book Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and What is the What was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award and won France's Prix Medici. Eggers is the founder and editor of McSweeney's, an independent publishing house based in San Francisco. A native of Chicago, he lives in Northern California with his wife and two children.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Diacha on 12 Aug. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Dave Eggers' "A Hologram for the King" is both an entertaining satire of the at times surreal expatriate experience in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a deeper meditation on the hollowing out of the American industrial economy.

In fiction, business executives are generally stereotyped as either sinister or feckless. "Hologram's" Alan Clay is of the familiar second type. He is 54, divorced, broke, and having been made serially redundant from well-known companies (notably Schwinn the late bicycle manufacturer) he is striving to eke out an existence as an under-employed consultant. Somehow, on the basis of a tenuous connection to a member of the KSA royal family and his client's ignorance, he lands what is potentially a game changing contract to lead the sales pitch of Reliant (the world's largest IT concern) to the King Abdullah Economic City ("KAEC as in cake") that is being built near Jeddah.

Alan's experience in KSA will be familiar to most western travelers to the Kingdom. He turns up for confirmed meetings only to find that his counterparty is out of the country. He passes a military checkpoint where a close to comatose soldier dangles his feet in an inflatable pool to keep cool; he encounters three dozen south Asian workers dense-packed in a semi finished luxury apartment while one floor above, a Saudi salesman occupies a similar apartment equipped to the highest standard of luxury; he discovers illicit rot-gut liquor; he gets invited to a drunken party at a Nordic embassy, and so on.

Eggers is not especially concerned to ridicule Saudi Arabia, though its absurdities make for easy satire. His main "message" is the passing of America's industrial age.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sue Kichenside TOP 500 REVIEWER on 21 April 2013
Format: Hardcover
Fiftysomething Alan Clay is a low-key kinda guy. He is going through some sort of existential late mid-life crisis but even that is a low-key kinda breakdown. Financially strapped, he is dependent on closing a gazillion dollar deal with King Abdullah in Saudi's new city-in-the-making. But when he eventually arrives at the nascent King Abdullah Economic City, there's no sign of the king and Clay enters a Kafkaesque world where his already shaky grip on things becomes even more precarious.

This loss of grip is reflected in the underlying thrust of the story - the loss of manufacturing in the States and the economic rise of China. Unfortunately, this reader's interest tailed off somewhat for the last third of the book when Eggers digresses from these twin themes to go on a couple of detours but nevertheless this is a terrific read from a terrific writer.

You can see Alan Clay so clearly that it's as if he is standing right in front of you and Dave Eggers portrays the anomalies of life in the Kingdom so well it's as if you are there. Whilst many aspects of what is happening to Clay are really quite sad and touching, this is a very humorous read. Clay's car journeys with his driver Yousef, a wonderfully drawn character, are hilarious. 4.5*
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert Cordner on 20 April 2013
Format: Hardcover
Eggers novel reads like a contemporary take on Arthur Miller's famous play, Death of a Salesman. It not only manages to expose the hollowness of a relatively unsuccessful commercial life, but places it in the context of globalisation. The decline of America is juxtaposed with the rise of China. But it is its setting, Saudi Arabia, which suggests that the spread of capitalism consequent on US decline is very thin indeed. Like the new desert city planned by the Saudi king, it confuses aspiration for reality in the business speak which masquerades as the new lingua franca. The novel's message is both highly local and global, individual and societal. As we are all increasingly herded into `competition' with one another, on the basis it will encourage dynamism and success, the results are often the very opposite: mediocrity, lack of sufficient resources, and worst of all, self-deception. This is definitely a novel of its time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By NickR on 18 Feb. 2013
Format: Hardcover
A fine book, wryly humorous, narrated with confidence and restraint. The theme - the emptiness around us, and the importance of being able to identify and grasp the real - is handled at a number of levels, which prevents it becoming as depressing as it might sound. The protagonist, poor Alan Clay, is an homme moyen sensuel who has lost all his points of reference and is adrift in a world he no longer understands.

This is the first book I've read by Dave Eggers, and I'll certainly buy another.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By CultureDrinker on 19 Dec. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I was eager to sample Eggers' talents in a full-length novel after being treated to his imaginative genius in a bite-sized fable about sleeping giants in Zadie Smith's short story collection "A Book of Other People".

Off I went with his briefcase-in-tow American IT consultant who is scheduled to meet the Saudi sheikh to secure a gargantuan IT contract for an upcoming desert megapolis. The peculiar setup gave Eggers an excuse to evoke and offhandedly satire the affluent Gulf's sociology, its scenery with a curious American IT-bot at the center, and for most part this engaged.

I was captivated most by the simple language (I use the term "simple" in the best sense of the word) that helped deliver the mini-epiphanies of this "fish-out-of-water" man-professional as he absorbed the scenery, the situations and the people with more certainty. It also helped make the undercurrents of frustration from his elusive neck lump that won't go away and the pathological redrafting of letters to a distant daughter figure bubble up with more colour. How a deliberate selection of commonplace words and almost-banal phrasing accentuated the gentle choreography of mood was one of the book's joys. The tones elicited were clearer, in intruded by ambiguous images that more arcane and flowery groupings of alphabet would have conjured. Particularly in the first half, where we have this man-next-door curiously stranded in an ambiguous ocean of sand with "strange" people who have "strange" social protocols and concepts of time and everyday living.
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